NEW YORK - Miguel Gonzalez hadn’t pitched in 11 days before taking the ball tonight at Yankee Stadium. Some pitchers would be too strong, would lose their feel and their command. Others, like Gonzalez, simply dominate.
Gonzalez tossed seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high nine batters and lowering his ERA to 3.31.
“We had a couple changes,” he said. “We have some new guys on our ballclub. I think that’s what set me back a little bit more. They told me they were going to give me a couple extra days off and it was a little more than what we were expecting, but it worked out.
“I’m going to do whatever they tell me. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 days or seven days, I’ll go out there and just do my job.
“I felt good today. Throwing those bullpens helped me to stay within myself and kept working. It was a great night, especially right now pitching against the Yankees. These games are all important for us and I just think the adrenaline gets me going. It helps me out.
“The adrenaline, the aggressiveness. I like pitching against a good offensive team, I guess. I get better. My pitches, obviously today they were real good. I was pitching them in and out and changing speeds helped me out.”
The Orioles have moved within two games of the Yankees in the American League East because they keep getting contributions from players who seem to emerge from the shadows. Or in Gonzalez’s case, the Mexican League.
“Its real fun,” he said. “I think everyone has put in their part. We have a great ballclub. I will say (Matt) Wieters back there, he’s awesome. You don’t really have to shake him. So, I think having him back there helps out a lot as a pitcher.”
Zach Britton and Gonzalez have turned in back-to-back starts where three-ball counts have been as rare as seeing the Orioles in a pennant race.
“Go back to yesterday, it was probably the first game all year when we didn’t have a three-ball count. And then Gonzo comes in and it wasn’t probably until the 17th or 18th hitter he faced when we had a three-ball count tonight,” said pitching coach Rick Adair. “He was ahead of a lot of hitters, obviously very aggressive. He did a great job.
“I think he’s unflappable. At the same time, one of the best things that’s happened is that we were allowed to - because of schedule and some other guys - give him some time off. He was real fresh tonight. Obviously, he responded and he attacked the hitters in this environment, which is where he’s pitched well before. It was a good outing.”
Gonzalez has issued one walk and struck out 17 batters in two starts against the Yankees in the Bronx.
“I think Gonzo is a guy who really stays in the moment,” Adair said. “He knows where he’d been. He knows what he’s been through in his career and he’s a guy who’s going to attack no matter where he is. He’s a very fearless competitor. We’re glad to have him.”
The Orioles are glad to have Mark Reynolds, who suddenly has emerged as a key figure in their push for a playoff berth.
“It’s been a positive year all year because we’re winning,” Reynolds said. “It’s a lot more fun to come to the yard when you’re right in the middle of a race. I’ve been through it before. It’s what we play for, and you can tell, especially in this clubhouse, the quiet confidence that everyone has, expecting to win every night. We’re going to keep riding this wave as long as it lasts.”
Reynolds flooded the seats with home run balls. OK, it was only two. Probably doesn’t constitute a flood. But it was impressive. And he looked like a Gold Glove first baseman.
“It was one of those nights,” he said. “It’s been a rough year, a long year, but not going to get too high and think anything different than I would have been thinking when I’m struggling. Just going to keep on working and try to do the little things to help us win.”
What about doing the big things with the bat and glove?
“It’s a plus, but like I said, it’s ho-hum, just another day,” he said. “Tomorrow, I might have a bad day and someone else might pick us up. Just try to stay humble and keep working and try to finish this thing up.”
And let the doubters keep doubting them.
“Keep doubting. I don’t care,” Reynolds said. “We keep coming in and doing our jobs and doing the little things that win baseball games. We’ve got one of the best back end of the bullpens in the league with J.J. (Jim Johnson) and Stropie (Pedro Strop). We know if we can get to those guys with the lead, we’ve got a real good chance at winning. That’s our focus.
“It’s real fun. Stay up and just keep playing.”